Co-owner of the Chalet Motor Inn, Michael Matteschek, in the motel’s deserted carpark.
Co-owner of the Chalet Motor Inn, Michael Matteschek, in the motel’s deserted carpark. Mike Knott

Tourism crisis hurts recovery

TOURISM and hospitality operators are watching thousands of dollars’ worth of trade wash away, as cancellations in the aftermath of the floods plague their recovery.

Carol Matteschek, owner of the Chalet Motor Inn, in Bourbong Street, said her occupancy rates had dropped from 81% to 22% in the past few weeks.

“You can only try and hang in there,” Mrs Matteschek said.

Acacia Motor Inn owner Sue Vaughan said all their booking had been cancelled for January, but was grateful they did have some trade from recovery team members.

“We were just lucky we did have some trade,” Mrs Vaughan said.

The problems are not confined to Bundaberg, with Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy feeling the pinch after road closures and bad weather.

Agnes Water business operator and Discovery Coast Tourism and Commerce spokesperson Lisa Brown said a crisis meeting had been organised for tomorrow night.

“We are like a ghost town,” Mrs Brown said.

“Some operators in town have decided that this was the last straw and have left. Some small businesses have had to close.”

She said the meeting would be about putting strategies in place to mar

ket the region and get people coming back.

“We need to look at how we go about it, get more of a structure in place,” Mrs Brown said.

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger said tomorrow night would be a survival meeting.

“People are really wondering if they can survive,” Mr Messenger said.

“We will need to set some short-term, medium- and long-term plans in place.”

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism chairman Greg Barnes said images of the flooded city going around the world had done a lot of damage and operators were worried.

“Some motels don’t have a single booking,” Mr Barnes said. “We are worried that it will hit us for a while.”

But while it may take some time for the tourism industry to recover, work has already begun to give people a reason to visit.

Stage two of the tourism board’s turtle campaign has been rolled out during the past few weeks and bosses are hoping record turtle-nesting numbers will boost visitor numbers.

Turtle-nesting numbers have increased from 274 in 2008/9 to 415 so far this season, which also means more hatchlings.

Mon Repos Research Centre Chief scientist Col Limpus said the numbers of turtles visiting had been the highest in decades.

“The beaches are in an excellent condition and the turtles are nesting in abundance,” he said.

Cooler sand also meant a longer incubation period, which may extend the season by a few weeks.

Agnes Water is also gearing up for a few big events, with a surfing competition this weekend and Australia Day activities next week.



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